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Petco Park dimensions will shrink in 2013

The SportsXchange

After eight years of discussions, the San Diego Padres are moving in the fences at Petco Park.

The distance to the outfield fences will be shortened by approximately 10 feet for just over 30 percent of the ballpark for 2013. In addition, the visitor's bullpen will be moved off the playing field and positioned above the Padres' bullpen beyond left-center.

The distance to the right field fence will be shortened by 10 feet from the middle of the short porch near the foul line to right-center. In addition, the height of the wall in right field will be lowered from 10 feet to just under 8 feet.

The fences in left-center in front of the Padres' bullpen will be brought in by 10 feet.

The out-of-town scoreboard will also be relocated to a spot above right field.

"Petco Park will still be a pitcher's ballpark," Padres CEO Tom Garfinkel said, "but the changes in the outfield dimensions will eliminate some of the extreme bias. When a ball is crushed, it should be a home run. That didn't happen at Petco Park, particularly on balls hit toward right-center and left-center.

"One of the reasons for lowering the fence in right was to add the dimension of the great catch at the fence to the list of possible plays at Petco Park. And moving the visiting bullpen from the playing field addresses a safety issue."

The distance to the left field power alley will be reduced from 402 feet to 390 feet. The distance to the right field power alley, which was originally 411 feet when the downtown ballpark opened in 2004, will be reduced to 390 feet from the current 402 feet. The distance to straightaway right field will be 364 feet, down from the old distance of 375 feet.

The distances to straightaway center (396 feet), to the left field foul (336 feet) and to the right field foul pole (322 feet) will not be changed. The 357-foot distance to straightaway left also will remain unchanged.

Petco Park played bigger than the Padres thought it would play. Original weather studies taken while Petco Park was being designed produced inaccurate information on the prevailing wind and atmospheric conditions. The density of the marine layer in early-season night games was a bigger factor than originally contemplated.

The Padres had discussed shortening the fences at Petco Park since the downtown ballpark opened in 2004. After the first season, the distance to the farthest point of the ballpark in right-center was shortened by 12 feet.

"When visiting players like Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun fly out to right-center, they shake their heads and laugh," Garfinkel said. "They are here for only three days. But it was more discouraging to many of our players who play here for half the season."
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